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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Monday, April 6, 1998

  • To teach grads to teach
  • Also coming to senate executive
  • Canada Council official visits
  • And more, on this bright day
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* The Hajj

To teach grads to teach

A "certificate in university teaching" would be available to graduate students under a program that's on its way to the UW senate for approval. It will be discussed by the senate executive committee at its meeting this afternoon.

Says the proposal, which comes from the senate graduate council:

Universities and colleges are increasingly concerned about the teaching skills of their prospective new faculty members. Most institutions expect new faculty to have teaching experience, some institutions in the US require teaching portfolios, and a few ask candidates to present a pedagogical colloquium. In the UK, the Dearing Report recommended that all newly hired university professors should have teaching credentials. Most Waterloo graduate students are ill-prepared to compete in this market.

Several Canadian universities now offer programs that provide graduate students with the opportunity to develop their teaching skills. Currently, eight universities offer semester length courses on University Teaching. Manitoba offers a teaching practicum, York a diploma, and Alberta a program, which is recorded on the transcript when it is successfully completed. Not only do these programs enhance the competitiveness of graduate students in their job searches, but the skills developed may also be advantageous in careers in research, business, or government. Improving the teaching skills of teaching assistants will also benefit undergraduate education, and provide better support to instructors. The University as a whole will gain by demonstrating its commitment to excellence in undergraduate and graduate education.

Students have already expressed interest in developing their teaching skills, as word of the program proposed here has spread around campus. Even more convincing is the fact that more than 400 graduate students have attended TA and Faculty workshops given by TRACE in the past year.

A program in post-secondary teaching will be offered to interested graduate students, sponsored jointly by TRACE and the Dean of Graduate Studies, which would lead to the Certificate in University Teaching. It is expected that departments would contribute to the program through the provision of workshops, seminars, and the assistance of faculty mentors.

Students in the program -- who would also have teaching assistantship experience -- would have to complete two courses and a teaching practicum, all with "zero weight" in their academic programs. Graduate Studies 901 would consist of six workshops; Graduate Studies 902, another three workshops, plus "a paper on some issue in university teaching"; and Graduate Studies 903, "a teaching experience developed for each student individually".

Says the proposal: "The program will normally require 3-6 terms to complete, and thus is meant primarily for doctoral students. Completion of the program will be recognized by the award of the Certificate, a statement confirming the award of the certificate on the transcript, and mention in the Convocation program."

Also coming to senate executive

Besides looking at the proposed teaching certificate, today's meeting of the senate executive committee will review the rest of the agenda for the April 20 senate meeting. That includes routine reports on courses and faculty appointments, and a review of the senate by-laws about meetings. Last month's senate meeting had a lively discussion of whether the executive committee did, or should, have the authority to cancel a senate meeting when there isn't much to put on the agenda, as happened in February.

The dean of mathematics issue also won't go away. The executive will be looking at a memo from Ian Macdonald of chemical engineering, who raises complaints about the minutes of the two recent meetings that discussed the unsuccessful search for a dean last fall. He writes: "The fact that the minutes of Senate do not even revel that there was a criticism of the administrative actions of senior officers of the University much less the nature of those criticisms, whereas the minutes of Senate Executive reveal in some detail the criticisms by those senior administrators of the Senator who had brought up the matter in Senate, does serve to stifle open discussion."

The executive meeting starts at 3:30 p.m. in Needles Hall room 3004.

Canada Council official visits

"I received notification this morning," says a memo from Pam Helmes-Hayes in the UW research office, "that Carol Brean, Director of the Killam Program/Endowments and Prizes at Canada Council, will visit the campus on Wednesday, April 8."

Brean is to make a one-hour presentation (in Needles Hall room 3001, at 2:30 p.m.) "and then be available for 15-minute appointments with individuals."

Department chairs have been asked to make sure faculty members know about the visit. "You may also wish administrative staff to attend." Individual appointments with Brean can be arranged with a phone call to ext. 3432.

And more, on this bright day

The pension and benefits committee is meeting this morning, with three main items on the agenda: pension contribution levels for the coming year (it's likely that the provost will ask for a reduction, to save the university some money and slow the growth of the bloated pension fund); the sick leave and long-term disability programs (which have been under review for a good year now); and the technical issue of "purchase of past service" for pension plan members who, for one reason or another, didn't pay premiums for part of the time they worked at UW.

The co-op department, still working on placing students for the spring term, will issue the final posting of the season for architecture students, at noon today. "A reminder to all co-op students leaving on a work term," a memo says. "Before you leave campus, print a copy of the work report guidelines from the CECS website. Math students can pick up their work report guidelines from the Math Undergrad Office on the 5th floor in Math and Computer."

FACCUS, the Faculty Computing User Support group, will meet at 1:30 today (Math and Computer room 2009), but half the program has had to be cancelled. Reg Quinton "had a death in the family and will be away this week", I'm advised, so his presentation on the work of the "technologist, security" in information systems and technology has been delayed to sometime in May. Today's FACCUS meeting will hear Bill Oldfield of the library systems department talk about public access security.

Easter week is upon us (Friday is the Good Friday holiday) and the Laurel Room in South Campus Hall will be open tomorrow for an Easter lunch special. The price of $9.95 per person, plus tax, includes choice of salad, choice of entree (salmon Wellington, beef medallions with wild mushroom sauce, or grilled chicken breast with tangy citrus glaze), choice of dessert, coffee and tea. Reservations: ext. 3198.

CAR


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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